Tennis: Muster makes boycott threat

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The Independent Online
Thomas Muster, of Austria, who is still incensed at abuse directed at him in a Davis Cup tie in Brazil last month, said yesterday that he would rather stop playing in the competition than risk injury at the hands of unruly fans.

Muster, the world No 3, marched off court during the clash between Austria and Brazil in Sao Paulo, after feeling threatened by the crowd. The International Tennis Federation last week ordered Austria to forfeit pounds 39,000 in prize- money for failing to complete the tie and upheld pounds 5,000 fines imposed on the spot against Muster.

Muster, in Hong Kong for the Marlboro Championships, defended his actions and said the referee's report was nonsense. "If the ITF continues to support these countries and they continue to cause trouble, sooner or later somebody is going to be injured," he said. "But it will not be me. I am not interested in playing Davis Cup again. It is not sport. I will play next year and see [what happens]."

Australia's Patrick Rafter upset the third-seed, Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the opening round of the championships. Kafelnikov, the French Open champion, came up against an inspired Rafter, who won the match on his third match point after two breaks in the third set. Both players are in the Red Group, which includes America's Michael Joyce.

Byron Black of Zimbabwe defeated Grant Connell of Canada 6-3, 6-4 in the Silver Group, which is headed by Pete Sampras, of the United States. Connell takes on the top-ranked Sampras today. Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman was also in fine form as he defeated Neville Godwin, of South Africa, 6-2, 6-3 in his opening match in the Gold Group.

The 12 players in the tournament are divided into four groups of three each, with the winner in each group advancing into the semi-finals.

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